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Are you considering a career as a financial analyst? If so, you should know that you can earn your bachelor’s degree in finance at the Baldrige School of Business at Post University. We offer online and on-campus programs to get the education you need for a career in the financial industry.

Before you begin your journey to becoming a financial analyst, you should understand the job and what it entails. This includes understanding the role and responsibilities of a financial analyst, the skills needed, and the potential career paths available.

Most financial analyst positions require a bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field. You can also pursue a master’s degree in finance to increase your chances of finding an entry-level position.

Some organizations and positions require Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) licensing; the Bachelor of Science in Finance at the Baldrige School of Business provides the information and skills you need to sit for the exams necessary for licensure.  To become licensed, you need to pass several exams, including Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) and Series 7. Some of these exams require the applicant to be sponsored by an appropriate organization.

The SIE exam is the initial exam for all FINRA registrations. The Series 7 (General Securities Representative) exam is the most comprehensive of the FINRA exams and covers topics such as investment products, ethics, sales practices, and regulations.  The BS in Finance offers a variety of courses and study materials that can help you prepare for the FINRA exams.  Our courses, whether online or on campus, provide an in-depth understanding of the topics covered in the exams, and our study materials provide practice questions and test-taking strategies. Additionally, our instructors are available to answer any questions students have about the exams.

What Is a Financial Analyst?

A financial analyst is an individual who evaluates investments and provides financial advice to businesses and individuals. Financial analysts use their knowledge of investments, financial markets, and economic trends to analyze data and make recommendations to their clients regarding their investments. They may also be responsible for creating financial models, analyzing financial statements, researching economic trends, and providing financial advice. Financial analysts may work in the finance department of a company, or they may work independently.

What Exactly Does a Financial Analyst Do?

A financial analyst analyzes financial data and makes recommendations based on their findings. This can involve a wide range of activities, including:

Gathering and analyzing financial data – Financial analysts collect and review financial statements, market trends, and other data to understand the financial health and performance of a business, industry, or investment.

Making investment recommendations – Based on their analysis, financial analysts may recommend that clients buy, sell, or hold particular investments. They may also recommend portfolio diversification or other strategies to help clients manage risk and maximize returns.

Monitoring investments – Financial analysts may track the performance of investments over time and make adjustments as needed to optimize returns.

Providing financial reports – Financial analysts may prepare reports or presentations that summarize their findings and recommendations for clients. These reports may include financial projections, risk assessments, and other information.

Staying current on economic and industry trends – Financial analysts need to stay updated on economic and industry trends to make informed recommendations to clients. This may involve reading financial news, attending industry conferences, and networking with other professionals in the field.

Work Environment

Financial analysts may work in a variety of settings, including banks, investment firms, insurance companies, and government agencies. They may also work for consulting firms or as independent contractors.

environment for a financial analyst is typically fast-paced, with tight deadlines and a focus on accuracy and precision. Financial analysts must be able to work independently and efficiently while also being able to collaborate with other financial professionals and other departments within the organization, such as sales and marketing. They must be able to interpret financial information and make decisions based on their findings. Additionally, they must have strong computer skills, be detail-oriented, and have the ability to analyze data and interpret relevant information. Furthermore, they must be able to think critically and strategically and be good at multitasking.

Type of Financial Analysts

There are several types of financial analysts, including:

Investment analysts – Investment analysts, also known as securities analysts or stock analysts, evaluate the performance of stocks, bonds, and other securities. They provide recommendations to clients on buying and selling investments and may also publish research reports on specific companies or industries.

Credit analysts – Credit analysts assess the creditworthiness of businesses or individuals, typically to determine whether to grant a loan or issue a bond. They review financial statements and other data to assess the risk of default and make recommendations to lenders or investors.

Financial planning analysts – Financial planning analysts help individuals and families create long-term financial plans, including budgeting, saving, and investing for retirement. They may also advise on tax planning, insurance, and other financial matters.

Industry analysts – Industry analysts focus on specific industries, such as technology or healthcare, and provide research and analysis on trends and developments within those sectors. They may work for investment firms, consulting firms, or as independent contractors.

Government analysts – Government analysts work for federal, state, or local government agencies and typically focus on financial issues, such as budgeting, financial regulation, or economic policy.

Corporate finance analysts – Corporate finance analysts work for large companies and provide analysis and recommendations on financial matters, such as capital budgeting, cost of capital, and mergers and acquisitions.

Quantitative analysts – Quantitative analysts use complex mathematical models and statistical analysis to evaluate financial data and make predictions about market trends. They may work in various settings, including investment banks and hedge funds.

Financial Analyst Career Path

Many financial analysts follow a similar path that includes the following steps:

  1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree. Financial analysts typically have a bachelor’s degree in a field such as finance, economics, or accounting. Depending upon where you work, this may even be a requirement of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  In the BS in Finance degree at Baldrige, students can elect the financial planning concentration and take courses designed specifically to prepare them to sit for the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) and Series 7 exams.
  2. Gain experience. Financial analysts may start their careers in entry-level positions, such as financial analysts or research assistants, where they can gain experience and build their skills. Some financial analysts may also obtain a master’s degree in a related field, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus on finance.
  3. Obtain professional certifications. It is often beneficial for financial analysts to obtain professional certifications from recognized organizations such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) or the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute. A search of the FINRA website will show a litany of licenses that an analyst can obtain. Some licenses a financial analyst might consider in their career are the Series 6, Series 66, Series 57, and Series 24.
  4. Advance to more senior positions. As financial analysts gain experience and build their skills, they often advance to more senior roles, such as senior financial analysts or portfolio managers.
  5. Specialize. To build expertise and advance their careers, financial analysts may eventually choose to specialize in a particular area, such as a specific industry or type of investment.

Financial Analyst Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of financial analysts is projected to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. The BLS notes that demand for financial analysts is expected to be driven by the increasing complexity of the financial markets and the need for businesses and organizations to make informed investment decisions.

The job outlook for financial analysts may vary by industry. For example, the employment of financial analysts in the securities, commodities, and financial services industry is expected to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030, while employment in the insurance industry is expected to grow 7% over the same period. Financial analysts working in the federal government may also have good job prospects, as demand for their services is expected to remain stable.

Is It Hard to Get a Job as a Financial Analyst?

Getting a job as a financial analyst can be competitive, especially at top firms or in highly sought-after industries. Many employers prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related field, such as finance or economics.

How Many Years of College Do You Need to Become a Financial Analyst?

As mentioned above, to become a financial analyst, you typically need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a field such as finance, economics, or accounting. A bachelor’s degree typically takes four years, although some programs may be completed in three.

Some prefer to hire financial analysts with a master’s degree in a related field, such as an MBA in Finance. A master’s degree typically takes two additional years of full-time study beyond a bachelor’s.

In addition to formal education, financial analysts can obtain professional certifications, which may require additional coursework and examinations.

Financial Analyst Certification Exams

There are several professional certification exams that financial analysts may choose to pursue to demonstrate their expertise and advance their careers. These exams may be offered by professional organizations, such as FINRA certification , the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute, or by other industry groups.

Some of the most common financial analyst certification exams include:

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Exam – The financial analyst position may require passing the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) exam in order to become a registered representative of a broker-dealer. This exam is required by the Securities and Exchange Commission and is administered by FINRA to ensure that financial analysts have the necessary knowledge and skills to work in the securities industry. The FINRA exam covers a variety of topics, including securities regulations, investment strategies, and market analysis. Passing this exam is essential for a financial analyst to be able to provide investment advice and services to clients.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Exam – The CFA exam covers a wide range of topics in finance and investment, including financial statement analysis, economics, ethics, and portfolio management. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and at least four years of professional work experience to be eligible to take the exam.

Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Exam – The CFP exam is a specialized exam that covers financial planning topics, such as retirement planning, tax planning, and risk management. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and at least three years of professional work experience to be eligible to take the exam.

Financial Risk Manager (FRM) Exam – The FRM exam is a specialized exam that covers risk management topics, such as credit risk, market risk, and operational risk. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of professional work experience to be eligible to take the exam.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam – The CPA exam is a comprehensive exam that covers accounting topics, such as financial reporting, auditing, and taxation. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and meet other education and experience requirements to be eligible to take the exam.

What Do I Need to Learn to Become a Financial Analyst?

To become a financial analyst, you will need to learn about a variety of economic concepts and financial tools, including:

Financial Statements. Financial analysts should be familiar with financial statements, including balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements, and be able to analyze them to understand a company’s financial health and performance.

Financial Ratios and Metrics. Financial analysts should be able to calculate and interpret financial ratios and metrics, such as the price-to-earnings ratio, return on investment, and debt-to-equity ratio, to evaluate the performance and potential of different investments.

Economic Principles. Financial analysts should have a strong understanding of economic principles, including supply and demand, inflation, and gross domestic product, and be able to apply these principles to their analysis of financial data.

Investment Principles. Financial analysts should be familiar with investing principles, including risk management, portfolio diversification, and asset allocation, and be able to use these principles to make recommendations to clients.

Industry and Company Analysis. Financial analysts should be able to research and analyze specific sectors and companies, including trends and developments that may impact their performance.

Skills Needed

Analytical skills – Financial analysts need strong analytical skills in order to collect, process, and interpret financial data. This may involve using complex mathematical models and statistical analysis to evaluate financial information and make predictions about market trends. Financial analysts should also be able to identify patterns and trends in financial data and use this information to make informed decisions and recommendations.

Problem-solving skills – Financial analysts often encounter complex financial problems that require creative and effective solutions. They should be able to think critically and analyze issues from multiple angles to identify potential solutions.

Verbal communication skills – Financial analysts should be able to effectively communicate their findings and recommendations to clients, colleagues, and other stakeholders. This may involve presenting financial reports or presentations, participating in meetings and conference calls, answering questions, and providing client guidance. Financial analysts need to be able to convey complex financial concepts and ideas clearly and concisely.

Written communication skills – Financial analysts should also have excellent written communication skills in order to prepare clear and well-organized reports and presentations in a way that is easy to understand for a non-technical audience.

Is a Financial Analyst Career Right for Me?

A career as a financial analyst may be right for you if you have the following characteristics and aforementioned skills:

  • Strong analytical skills
  • Problem-solving ability
  • Attention to detail
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Interest in finance and investing

If you possess these qualities and are looking for a challenging and rewarding career in the financial industry, a career as a financial analyst may be right for you.

Pursue a Career in Finance at the Baldrige School of Business at Post University

If you would like more information on becoming a financial analyst, consider to learn more about available degree programs and certification options.

Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!

Please note jobs and/or career outcomes highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs or career outcomes expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions advisor.